Ship held in S Korea for alleged illegal oil transfer to N Korea

Last Updated: Thu, May 09, 2019 23:30 hrs

[South Korea], May 5 (ANI): Cracking down against UN sanctions violations, South Korea on Saturday held a Panamanian-flagged ship at the port city of Busan for allegedly illegally transferring oil to North Korea.

South Korea's Coast Guard and Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries suspect the ship of illegally transferring petroleum products to the reclusive state through ship-to-ship transfers three times from July to December last year, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

The allegations have been refuted by the ship's owner, identified only as a Russian national.

The 1,014-ton ship, Katrin, was inspected twice in joint operations undertaken by South Korea's spy agency and customs office in February when it entered Busan's port for maintenance. The regional maritime authorities then issued an order suspending its departure on February 15.

"The owner vowed to cooperate with the investigation, but is continuously delaying arrival in South Korea," a coast guard official said.

South Korea has held eight ships until now on suspicions of violating UN sanctions. While six ships have been detained after the allegations against them have been substantiated, the remaining two, including Katrin, are still being investigated.

North Korea has been subjected to a horde of sanctions by the UN, in a bid to get the reclusive state to denuclearise. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un agreed to denuclearise during the first USA-North Korea summit in Singapore last year, after which the country has taken steps towards dismantling its nuclear programmes.

However, sanctions against North Korea continue despite the country asking for waivers in exchange for the denuclearisation efforts it has made. The United States, especially, has been steadfast on its stance of granting sanctions relief only after Pyongyang has completely denuclearised.

The sanctions have crippled the North Korean economy, coupled with a raging food crisis due to a series of weather disasters. Recent UN reports estimate that over 10 million North Koreans suffer "severe food shortages," while around 42 per cent of the country's population is "food insecure." (ANI)